Home' Nova National : NOVA NATIONAL AUGUST 12 Contents The Truth about
Food guidelines such
as RDIs are falling short
of the latest studies into
optimum nutrition with
a likely impact on our
rates of chronic illness,
says Peter Dingle PhD.
18 © NOVA AUGUST 2012
Despite passing years and
millions of dollars spent,
the Government sponsored
(and industry influenced)
food guidelines are not changing food
consumption patterns -- many people do
not meet current dietary recommend-
ations,1 and fruit and vegetable con-
sumption (which is linked to greater
protection from chronic diseases) remains
Two in three people in Australia don't
eat the recommended intake of fruit,
and four in five are not consuming the
recommended vegetable intake, with
children consuming less fruit and vege-
tables today than a decade ago.4 A recent
UK Food Standards Agency report found
that among adults between the ages of
19 and 64, only 13% of men and 15% of
women eat the recommended five
portions of fruit and vegetables every
day. At the present time, only 32% of
Americans consume five servings of fruit
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and vegetables per day with only 20% of
adolescents meeting this goal.5 Instead,
our diet is being replaced with significantly
increased amounts of sugar,6 refined
carbohydrates7 and processed fats.
While food guidelines aim to be
simplistic to reduce confusion this often
fails. The food guidelines are too general
for chronic disease prevention; if the
guidelines were adjusted to be more
specific, chronic disease risk could be
A similar problem occurs within the
food pyramid, which was developed in
1992 by advertising and marketing
researchers to develop an image the
consumer could identify with and easily
understand. The pyramid was then
widely distributed and has been used as
an educational tool, a basis for dietary
assessment, and part of policy documents.
It has succeeded in creating high levels
of consumer awareness and is recognised
by 67% or more of American adults.11
This wasn't the first time that
government and industry had made
attempts to influence how Americans
eat; the first US guide, 'Food for Young
Children', dates back to 1916. And the
'four food groups' developed in the
1950s were strongly influenced by the
food industry -- after all, the regulators
invited the food industry to help
shape the guidelines. To highlight the
strong influence of industry on US food
guidelines, in 2011, the US Department
of Agriculture, the same organisation that
created the food pyramid, labelled pizza
as a vegetable because it has tomato
paste. Any wonder the food pyramid was
Figure 5. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Food Pyramid. Source: Chiuve and Willet 2007.12
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